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Adventures in Alternative App Markets

This past month I have been focusing a lot on getting our latest game, Sudoku In Space, on as many app markets as possible. I found this great article on Gamasutra, by Arturs Sosins, detailing his experience and stats for downloads on a variety of Android markets. And I realized we were really missing out on a lot of possible exposure.

Unfortunately, our installs have not yet been as many as what Arturs experienced, but his game, Sushi The Fish, is casual-arcade whereas Sudoku In Space is a more niche puzzle game (although we’re trying to push it into the casual category more). I’ll make a full report of our experience in January when we have enough numbers to make comparison to Arturs’ numbers and I’ll be using Google Play downloads as a baseline factor so that we can do a more meaningful comparison.

Here’s Arturs’ numbers for a quick reference:

Markets After Month 1 After Month 2 Increase %
Slideme 1548 1819 271 17.5
GetJar 866 943 77 8.9
Vodafone 128 325 197 153.9
AndroidPit 38 76 38 100
Opera 29 32 3 10.3
TStore 24 43 19 79.1 18 19 1 5.55
Google Play 17 53 36 211.8
1mobile 11 12 1 9
Insyde 6 30 24 400
Amazon 5 19 14 280
Applandic 2 2 0 0
AppsLib 1 1 0 0
Camangi 1 1 0 0
Yandex 5 5 0 0
Nokia 10 10 0 0
Appsberry 2 2 0 0
andapponline 0 0 0 0
aptoide 0 0 0 0
mobogenie 0 0 0 0
cnet 0 0 0 0
Total: 2711 3392 +681 25.12


On to the experience!

We found that most of the stores do not offer an experience for the developer that is anything near what Google Play offers, a couple come close. We started working on the list from the top. One of our main challenges is that Sudoku In Space offers IAP through Google Play and only some of these stores will allow it, but most will not consider your game for promotion if you do so. I tinkered around with AGK’s java setup and found that it would take me a long time to set up OpenIAB (an alternative SDK that allows you to easily set up IAP for a bunch of different stores). I asked the folks at AGK if this were a possibility anytime in the future and they hope to look at it after v2 is completed. Since I couldn’t wait that long we decided to release 2 versions of Sudoku In Space on the stores, paid and free with ads. Currently we only offer ad removal as an IAP, but very soon we are expanding the game to have more puzzle packs which will require more IAP and similarly drive up the price of the paid versions.

The next challenge was getting information from many of these markets so that we could use a deep link URL to link players directly to the paid version of the app in the same market that they downloaded the free version from. Some sites offered up this information readily, some responded to our question by email, some I figured out on my own, and some still have yet to reply after 2 weeks. Interestingly, many of them use market:// URL schemes exactly like Google Play, so that made life a little easier, though I think I’d rather they used their own URL scheme to ensure that the player is directed to the same store that they downloaded the free version from.

Now we’ve got 2 versions of the app and I’ve weeded out the stores that fail to give any response to emails. Next up we needed to determine how to get paid and set up payment info. This weeded out a few more stores for us because, apparently, our bank doesn’t accept international wire transfers (who would have thought?).

Stores unresponsive to emails:
Vodafone, AndroidPit, 1Mobile, Camangi, Andapponline
Stores that only pay through international wire transfer:
Vodafone, T-store, Yandex

The biggest losses are Yandex and T-Store which are both fairly large markets and we were hoping to use T-Store to help us with our distribution in S.Korea as the app is fully translated into Korean. T-Store was very responsive to emails.

With a few stores removed from the list and information on how to deep link into their market apps we started down the road of getting the app up on as many stores as possible. First we started with GetJar and Opera because they were very easy. The websites are barebones for the developer portals, but they work. So far our download experience on both sites has not been great. The sites report any clicks to the download links. So what we thought were 100s of downloads turned into very few actual installs. I can’t explain this. Our permissions are bare minimum and the APK is under 15MB. So why would folks click to download but never install? Unfortunately, we’ll never know, but it appears GetJar and Opera get a lot of junk clicks. I’m glad I got these two first because I was not using unique app IDs for Chartboost for each store so that we could accurately track installs. I quickly factored that in so we had more accurate analytics, but I left GetJar and Opera builds alone for the sake of time and Google Play provides enough information so I can compare later.

After those two I started working on the other stores. SlideME was a pleasure to work with and we are fortunate enough that they started featuring our app about a week after we uploaded it. From Oct 24th to Oct 28th we’ve seen an average of about 50 installs per day from them. Their site reports quite a few more downloads, but we’re focusing on installs because those are the ones that will earn us money. Their support has been responsive to our questions and putting the app up was pretty simple.
This store has offered us really nice support. Unfortunately, I still can’t get their upload forms to work. They seem to think it is something to do with my ISP, but I don’t know how my ISP could be causing their forms to show images from their website header in the fields where it should be showing my screenshots I’m uploading… At any rate, they eventually offered to submit it manually and we’re now waiting on their review.

This site is well documented and really needs it because their site is a bit confusing. All in all it was not hard to figure out and get our app up there. They are pretty slow to do their QA review. We uploaded on the 16th and it is now 12 days later. If we exclude weekend days then it is 8 days. They say it will appear on the store 5-7 business days after QA review. Trying to wait patiently…

Support from Aptoide has been very responsive, but we’ve had a lot of issues. We went through a certification process which I had hoped would improve our desirability to their users and speed up the publishing process. Their forms were confusing. They show multiple language support and although your images disappear from the form when changing to a different translation you cannot upload different images. It took a week of back and forth with their support to finally get the app to show up on their market app. It is still showing that one of the screenshots is missing. Also the app has been published for a week there and still has yet to see a single download. They’ve given us some market credits to spend on their promotion / ad campaigns. Hopefully that will result in something as this one was a lot of effort.

Easy upload. They don’t appear to do paid apps. Still waiting on email response from them about that or if we can use Google IAB. I’m imagining we can, but I like to confirm. They offer a free promotional package worth “$20,000” if you implement their SDK, but they don’t give you the opportunity to find the SDK anywhere and don’t respond to emails. We’ll see how it goes.

This seems more like a marketing site to advertise your app than it is an actual Android market. No downloads after a week. The good thing is that it is easy to put up your app. Just add the Google Play link and it is there. Seems like you either need to get an editor’s review or pay for advertisement to get anywhere. Even massively popular games like Plants vs. Zombie 2 has only 1,800 downloads via CNet. Pretty much every game that has downloads there has editors reviews. Interestingly one of the most downloaded apps is 1Mobile which is another Android market.

Real easy to set up. Again this seems more like a site that you need to advertise on to get anywhere. This only links to Google Play so it quick and simple.

In January I plan to follow up on this article with some hard stats and a baseline comparison to Arturs’ data. At this point I’d say that every Android developer should at least be putting their app up on SlideMe. It seems to have a lot of reach and visibility for small fries like us is actually possible.

Until next time!
Thanks for reading!

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